The insanely joyous reaction by Miami players who watched new fullback Marquez Williams power-clean a school running-back record of 381 pounds on a recent video posted by strength coach Gus Felder is enough to make one realize that this Hurricane is pretty special.
“Big-boy Marquez is running with the ones,” said UM coach Mark Richt of his first-team battering ram, who earned a scholarship after transferring from Division II Mars Hill (North Carolina) College. “He’s how you draw them up.”
At this rate, Williams might make fullback a sexy position again at the U.
The 22-year-old graduate transfer has drawn the attention of coaches, players and even fans, though he doesn’t partake in social media and is just grateful that the coach he grew up idolizing in his hometown of Athens, Georgia — home of the Georgia Bulldogs — showed him enough love to invite him to Coral Gables and give him a scholarship.
“I had to ask if it was really him because I was in such shock,” Williams said of Richt’s phone call asking him to be a Hurricane. “Honestly, after I got off the phone with him, I shed a tear. I called my mom and she was excited. My whole family was excited.”
Williams weighs 280 pounds and said he stands 5-10 — three inches shorter than he’s listed on Miami’s roster. He graduated Clarke Central High School in 2012, redshirted his first season at Mars Hill, and played the next three predominantly as a blocker, getting “very few” carries and scoring “one or two” touchdowns.
But Williams has quite a motor on his imposing frame, and thick, muscular legs that get him to his destination in a hurry.
“Despite how big he is, he’s still pretty fast,” UM quarterback Brad Kaaya said last week. “He’s a strong guy. I don’t know if you’ve seen his highlight tape, but he’s just a real physical guy. I’d be afraid to tackle him if I was a safety or a [defensive back]. We’ll see when the pads come on. He might hurt some people.”
Williams will take the spot vacated by returning senior walk-on Gage Batten, who injured his foot early in the spring and was still working on the sideline during Sunday’s fourth session of preseason camp.
Williams said he “didn’t have the grades coming out of high school” and his options were Mars Hill or Georgia Military College.
“I chose to go to Mars Hill, which turned out great for me,” he said.
Richt’s son, Jon, was a record-breaking quarterback at Mars Hill and played with Williams when the fullback was a freshman and Richt was a senior. Williams sent Jon Richt his game film, which the younger Richt gave to his father.
“If you look up the definition of fullback in the Webster’s [dictionary], you’d probably have a picture of that guy,” Mark Richt said.
Now, Williams has one more year to make his mark. He already has in the weight room, setting the one record and also hitting 570 pounds in the squat.
“I saw the video,” linebacker Jamie Gordinier said Sunday. “I thought that was crazy. He’s a beast. That hypes everyone up.”
Williams, who said he’s working on his masters in liberal studies, said that Felder “has been doing a tremendous job” in the weight room and his teammates motivate him “as much as I try to push them.”
Regarding the video, he said he was in the weight room competing while running back Gus Edward encouraged him “to try and get more weight. …The guys rallied around me and I kind of fed off their energy.”
Edwards had the previous power-clean record for a running back: 362 pounds.
Williams said the pace of major-college football is a lot faster, but he doesn’t feel any pressure.
“Coach Richt just wanted me to come in to help get the team better,” he said. “That’s what I’m here for… Get us to a good bowl game, win games, that’s the main focus.”